Andy Ingham, historian of No. 127 Squadron, sent us this image to accompany the similar previous photograph that he kindly helped identifying. Andy received the photograph from one of the squadron pilots.
The photograph shows another Spitfire Mk. IX/XVI of No. 127 Squadron in Grimbergen mud. Research made by Andy indicates that the depicted aircraft might be RR257, Spitfire Mk. XVI taken on strength by the squadron on 25th November, 1944 and given the code 9N-Y.
This aircraft was built by Vickers Armstrong at Castle Bromwich and was delivered to No. 6 Maintenance Unit on 17th October 1944. The first time it was used operationally was on 26th November 1944 when it was flown by the ‘A’ Flight Commander, F/Lt Peter Hillwood DFC on a mission dive-bombing railway lines at Arnhem, Holland. Peter Hillwood was a Battle of Britain Pilot.
The same aircraft was last used operationally by No. 127 Squadron on an Armed Recce to ‘Area V’, Holland on 14th February 1945, flown by F/Sgt Alan Griffin. In early 1945 it would appear that it may have been recoded 9N-O. In the following days the aircraft was flown back to the UK, where the squadron was to spend three weeks at RAF Fairwood Common on an Armaments Practice Camp. At the end of February this Spitfire was passed on to No. 61 Operational Training Unit.
A closer scrutiny of the photograph reveals that the scene had been staged – the ground crew are actually only pretending to perform their maintenance duties, and they have been posed in convenient places to support the rather neat composition. This was the typical practice of press photographers at the time. It also provides a clue that this photograph might have been among those taken by official RAF photographer F/O A Goodchild during his visit in Grimbergen in December 1944.
[From the collection of Andy Ingham, 127 Sqn Historian ]